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Duloxetine: Side Effects & Drug Interactions

Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

Duloxetine is a prescription medication to treat different conditions. In this lesson, we will learn about duloxetine as well as the side effects and drug interactions to be aware of.

What Is Duloxetine?

Duloxetine is the generic name for a prescription drug classified as an SSNRI. SSNRI stands for selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. The brand name of duloxetine is Cymbalta.

Dr. Smith started three of his patients on duloxetine in the last month. Jonathan was given duloxetine to treat his depression and help with his chronic back pain. Jimmy started it to treat his anxiety disorder, and Mary Jo was given duloxetine to treat her fibromyalgia. Although these are very different conditions, duloxetine is used to treat all of them.

SSNRI explains how duloxetine works. The brain has two very important chemicals that are neurotransmitters to send messages in the brain. These are serotonin and norepinephrine. When levels of these chemicals are low, it is associated with depression. SSNRI medications stop serotonin and norepinephrine from going back into the cells. The result is increased levels of the chemicals, which improves depression.

Duloxetine is a great medication, but there are always considerations that need to be taken. Let's look at side effects associated with duloxetine.

Duloxetine Side Effects

A medication has it's intended use, but it may also have secondary beneficial or adverse effects that can occur. These are called side effects, and all medications have the potential for side effects to occur. Let's follow Dr. Smith's patients and see how they are doing.

At her follow-up appointment, Mary Jo tells Dr. Smith that her mouth has been really dry no matter what she does. She feels tired all the time and hasn't even had much of an appetite. Dr Smith asks her if she has been having any nausea or constipation, which she denies. Dr. Smith tells Mary Jo that the symptoms she is experiencing are very common side effects associated with duloxetine. He gives her some suggestions on how to help with these, but instructs her to continue to take the medication.

Jimmy only started taking the duloxetine last week. He called Dr. Smith today for an appointment because he was having a lot of nausea and stomach pain. He hasn't eaten hardly anything since starting the medication, and he is having clay-colored stools. Dr. Smith asks him if his urine is dark in color, which he confirms but attributed that to being dehydrated. Dr. Smith also notices Jimmy's skin has a yellow color called jaundice. Dr. Smith instructs Jimmy to stop taking the medication due to concerns that it is affecting his liver. He prescribes him a different medication.

Jonathan has been taking the duloxetine for two weeks now, and when the nurse calls to see how he is doing, she is concerned and asks him to come in to see Dr. Smith. Jonathan and his wife come in to see the doctor. He hasn't been sleeping well and has had increased anxiety. His wife says that he has been aggressive and hostile, which isn't like him. When Dr. Smith talks to Jonathan, he admits to feeling suicidal. Dr. Smith instructs him to stop the medication immediately and develops a plan for his safety.

All medications have potential side effects. It is important to report any new symptoms or concerns to your physician when taking a new medication.

Drug Interactions When Taking Duloxetine

Any time that you take more than one medication, there is a risk of a drug interaction. Mary Jo is the only patient of Dr. Smith's that is still taking the duloxetine. Let's check in with her and learn about drug interactions.

Mary Jo has been taking the duloxetine for a couple months now and has had great results from it. She wasn't taking any other medications when she started it, but now she is needing other medications and is discussing this with her pharmacist.

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